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Jersey Retirement

Brodeur flashed early signs of greatness

Losses in 1994 playoffs offered glimpse of Marty's championship form

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

The New Jersey Devils will honor Martin Brodeur by unveiling a statue in his honor outside Prudential Center on Feb. 8 and retiring his No. 30 prior to a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 9. is honoring Brodeur by taking a look back at his record-breaking and likely Hall of Fame career in a series of stories counting down to his jersey retirement ceremony.

Here is the story of how the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs offered signs of the future for Brodeur and the Devils:

The reason why John MacLean will never forget Martin Brodeur's rookie season has a lot to do with the reason why the former New Jersey Devils forward doesn't remember anything about what Brodeur was like as a rookie.

"You don't remember him as a rookie because you didn't think he was a rookie," MacLean said. "He came in and just played. He just played and it was like, 'OK, this kid is good.' And we went from there."

The Devils went to the Eastern Conference Final, to Game 7 against the New York Rangers and to double overtime before Stephane Matteau scored his famous goal on Brodeur.

New Jersey's path to that moment at Madison Square Garden was marked with signs of what was to come for Brodeur and the Devils, starting in Game 6 of the first round against the Buffalo Sabres at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.

That's where Brodeur showed MacLean and the Devils his true chops. That's where he showed them they had a real chance to be a championship team.

Brodeur went save for save with future Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek in a four overtime game that didn't end until Sabres fourth-line forward Dave Hannan scored on a sprawling Brodeur to give Buffalo a 1-0 win, forcing a Game 7 in East Rutherford, N.J. two nights later.

Brodeur finished with 49 saves, though he vividly remembers the one he didn't make. 

"I came across and I didn't see he was skating toward the puck instead of away from the puck," Brodeur said. "I moved, lost my footing, fell on my side and I saw him skate the other way and send a backhand top shelf. There was no chance I could stop it in the position I was in. But again, you kind of attribute that to fatigue, a mental break or whatever. You live and learn." 

Everyone associated with the Devils at the time learned a lot about Brodeur in how he lived through that moment. 

"You learn that he can go head to head against Dominik Hasek and can take it to four overtimes," MacLean said. "You learn that his greatest asset was his ability to shake things off. That was always his greatest asset. He was like a pitcher who gave up a home run and thought, 'OK, let's strike out the next seven.' That was his mentality." 

Brodeur shook it off and helped the Devils win 2-1 in Game 7. He made 17 saves. 

"I didn't have any doubts in Marty," said Devils goalie coach Chris Terreri, who was Brodeur's backup in 1994. "You couldn't. He was so talented." 

Coach Jacques Lemaire might have had some doubts in the second round against the Boston Bruins. Lemaire decided to use Terreri in Games 3 and 4 at Boston after Brodeur and the Devils lost the first two games in New Jersey. 

Terreri won both of his starts, tying the series at 2-2. 

"He was disappointed, but he didn't challenge Lemaire because he knew Lemaire was doing it for a reason," former Devils goalie coach Jacques Caron said. "There was no ego, like, 'I should be playing.' Never. Never." 

But Lemaire smartly put to rest any doubts he had in Brodeur by going back to him for Game 5. He stopped all 22 shots he faced for a 2-0 win. 

Lemaire gave Terreri the net again in Game 6 and the Devils won it 5-3 to close out the series. However, MacLean and Terreri said nobody ever wondered who would start Game 1 against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. 

"Everybody knew how good Marty was and what he meant to the team," Terreri said. 

Brodeur started every game against the Rangers. The Devils lost the series on Matteau's goal, but they won experience and gained confidence in a goalie that always had confidence in himself. 

"I don't remember thinking, 'Oh gosh, we got this rookie,'" MacLean said. "Marty was here, he looked good, and the timing of the system that we played and the talent he had, it just seemed so streamlined. He was a rookie, but he was such a natural fit and we just went from there." 

New Jersey went on to win the Stanley Cup the following season; the first of three in nine seasons.

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